Monday, May 23, 2011

Taking but not giving in New Zealand

New Zealand Herald (Brian Rudiman)

Over the past decade, Te Papa's headhunters have been steadily working their way through a list of 120 institutions - mainly European museums - seeking the repatriation of toi moko.

They are the mummified heads that flowed out of New Zealand as ghoulish souvenirs in the early 19th century.

In recent days they've been celebrating the success of their latest sweep through Europe, resulting in the return of heads and other Maori human remains from Rouen in France, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

The hypocrisy is, these retrieved relics will be brought back to the Wellington waterfront national museum to share basement space with lonely Lady Mehit, the trophy of an equally ghoulish trade in human exotica.

She's an Egyptian mummy, stolen from her 2300-year-old burial site at the Temple of Min's cemetery in Akhmim about the same time as the Maori heads went on the market.

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